[UPDATE:] I added some additional thoughts in the comments section.
Lots of stuff announced and discussed in Apple’s recent iTunes/iPod announcements, but it seems the camera situation is the most complained about. Bottom line is the new nano has one, the new touch does not.
Isn’t this backwards? Isn’t it a no-brainer to add a camera to the touch? Is Apple ripping us off? Are they just trying to “force” us to buy iPhones? Let’s burn all our Apple equipment and buy Zunes before Arrington and Calacanis can accuse us all of being sellouts…
But, as usual, the truth is much less sinister. Apple has simply made what they feel are the most appropriate choices for each device given the target market and the priorities for each.
The iPod nano Got a Camera
Yes, but it’s only a video camera. It does not shoot stills. That’s an important distinction because stills require much better quality.
With the great popularity of the Flip line of video cameras, Apple feels there are still many people who haven’t tried it; they want a piece of that. Only time will tell, but they may be right. Given how quickly the iPhone took over the “uploaded photo” crown on Flickr, it’s not hard to imagine the new nano making a dent in movie uploads.
But why is it only a video camera? Steve Jobs was asked that very question:
…the sensors you need to record video are extremely thin these days—thin enough to fit into the wafer-thin Nano. But the ones with enough resolution for stills, especially with autofocus (like the sensor in the iPhone), are much too thick to cram into a player that’s only .02 inches thick.
Well, well. There was no evil intent, just a technical limitation that even the geniuses at Apple can’t overcome. And I certainly agree with Apple’s decision to not make the nano thicker. Besides, they had a price point to consider.
No camera in the iPod touch.
It’s hard to believe this was done to further distinguish the iPhone. You’re not going to “force” people to buy a phone — and the >$75 monthly bill that goes with it — by depriving them of a camera in a non-phone. No, the omission must be for some other reason.
I think people have forgotten how much an iPhone really costs. You only pay AT&T $199 or $299, but AT&T tosses around $400 to Apple. The iPhone is an expensive device. The various cell radios, GPS, and a camera with auto-focus and -exposure, not to mention video capabilities, don’t come cheap in such a small form factor.
Apple’s goal was to cut the touch’s price — Schiller said so — while adding enhancements that were most needed. They had to increase capacity, and the device was due for a speed bump as well. For the same $299 and $399 price as before, you get double the memory and the fast “guts” of the current iPhone 3GS. That speed difference is huge, allowing even better games that, in case you hand’t noticed, the touch is being marketed towards.
And, no, the simple video in the new nano would have made little sense (and fell too short of expectations) slapped in the touch as a stop-gap measure. That’s not how Apple rolls.
I’m sure the touch gets a camera at some point. I’m not sure it’ll be the same as the iPhone’s, given the slightly different cases, but it wasn’t the right change now. It would not have been practical given the level of quality needed, and the priorities of lower cost and more important enhancements.